03/09/2006 - 7:54 p.m.
I admit it. I did it and I did it behind his back. I confessed quickly and sought forgiveness. So much for exclusivity in our marriage. Now, I've really done it. I am a philatelic philanderer. I let another man talk stamps to me when my husband was not around.
I did it out of kindness and pity. The man I let talk stamps to me is someone who, until a week or two ago, I never knew was a stamp collector. I met him years ago and see him off and on and we always talk law or politics. Usually, as today, I see him in the courthouse cafeteria. But Fogieknight, the husband formerly known as Mr. Philately, had run into him at a stamp show recently and had mentioned it. As I greeted him I mentioned hearing that he had run into Fogieknight. (Amazingly, the fog had not been all that strong with Fogieknight when he ran into the man as he actually remembered the name of the man he had run into.) The man indicated that he had collected in his youth and had gone back to it recently to fill his days after his wife had died.
He sounded so sad and lonely that I could not help myself. I guess I'm a sucker for real sadness. (I hear so many sob stories at work that they generally do not affect me much.) I took a deep breath and I asked him about his collection. I even drew on the background of years of listening to a man talking about stamps to ask what exactly he collected and to respond, with more knowledge than I care to concede I have, with relevant questions about exactly what areas of postal history he collected and the difficulties of getting top dollar for those items a collector decides to sell.
And then, I listened. I actually listened to the answers. I listened to what he collected, why he collected it, and why it mattered to him. I learned how stamps lead him to major in history in college.
And, as I was listening, I realized why it was a bad idea to stray. It's hard to be a philatelist's wife. But, even more, it's hard out here for a philatelic 'ho.
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